Ugh. Of course my favorite place in UTC is one of the most expensive ones. But, MF is more than worth it. And it’s even more appealing now that I know they have fantastic house-made lemonade!
So this’ll be just a quick one-two punch deal:
“The 8 Hour” Pulled Pork
The word that came to mind was “righteous.” Haven’t a clue why. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in conversation, and if I have, it would have been in the sense of “righteous indignation” or something like that. This pulled pork was basically like homemade, in terms of seasoning and fat level. Great balance between the richness of the meat and the bite/tang of the sauce. The requisite slaw imparted the requisite vinegar and vegetable flavors, and the bread was excellent.
Note: I treated myself to extra meat ($1), but only because I really love pulled pork. I’m sure it would be just about as good without that.
Short Rib Sunday Supper Trencher
Braised short ribs with Sunday Sauce (red wine-tomato gravy, braised kale, and mirepoix), Mendo’s krispies, and local horseradish ricotta crema on a panini-pressed soft roll.
Could it be?! Is it possible that the trencher is coming back?
I mean, it’s only a name here, but still. I’ve loved trenchers ever since I learned about them in high school AP Euro (and asked my mom to replicate them at home).
The Sunday Sauce was adamantly winey, perhaps augmented by the tomatoes, and combined with the horseradish crema, provided just enough of a balance against the richness of the braise overall.
And such a generous hit of short rib! This isn’t even with extra meat.
I forgot my lunch, which was a sandwich, at home, so I came here because I’m never in a good mood if I’m promised a sandwich and end up having to eat something else.
Beef BLT. The tomato is roasted! That worked really well with the earthiness of the beef.
Another winner! A nice, meaty sandwich with robust, but still balanced, bread. I added blue cheese crumbles, which are an extra ¢50, and while I could imagine this sandwich still being great without that, but why would anyone purposely deprive themselves like that? This is America, man!
Unfortunately, I ate it in the place, so UCI’s Sociology department (do I even have a sufficient readership to justify a flogged joke?) will have to wait until next time for their next set of data or whatever.
No Irvine restaurant cluster would be complete without a place that at least pays homage to some form of Middle Eastern cuisine. This place is more than an homage, though, which is, of course, all the better.
The format is simple—kabob/rice/salad, or a gyro—but the components are all great. Both my visits yielded nicely cooked, juicy kabobs (help I can’t stop reading kabob in Nicolai Jakov’s voice).
Beef koobideh, chicken breast kabob, buttery rice, a pleasantly vinegary salad, and a touch of yogurt sauce made a really nice lunch.
Prices range from $7 to $14. The thing I got was $12, which, with a bottle of water, made my change come out to $6.66. “Lucky number,” the proprietor commented. Didn’t help much in that night’s round of the trivia tournament at Anthill, but maybe I would have got run into by some bro on a power board or something if I hadn’t got that exact meal.
No, not Kogi. I know, the whole voiced-unvoiced constant thing confuses me too. I’m surprised that I can keep it all straight with three languages other than English knocking about in my head.
Another long school day, another UTC lunch. My friend Andrew had the good fortune to be free in the UCI area at the same time I was, so he joined me on my now-routine lunchtime UTC walkabout. We settled on Korean fusion joint Gogi.
As if he was trying to out-white me, my friend got the KFC—KOREAN fried chicken—on french fries.
The bibimbap combo is a good deal! Eight bucks for a meat (pictured: spicy chicken), rice, and 7 sides on a salad. Totally portable if necessary, and a better than expected balance of all the components, i.e., I didn’t have a bunch of salad left after eating all the sides.
Huh. Short post. Whatever. This is better suited to the modern attention span anyways.
Man, what a place! Beer, food, something else…
What I’m trying to say is what else does one need?
As you can tell from this picture, I totally had these two items together and at the same time.
I don’t like to say food is “better than it has to be” because there’s never really a time when food doesn’t have to be good, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of and care put into this sandwich—see my sandwich checklist
. Aioli, generous bacon, lettuce, and tomato (in a color other than red!). Just a really great BALT. And bonus points for being on sourdough by default. AND special mention or more bonus points or whatever for the excellent potato chips.
This paired excellently with Pizza Port’s Chronic Amber Ale. I always like a bitter and slightly tart (or red-y, as I like to say) beer to go with a richer food.
I used to be one of those people who distrusted people who were (what I considered) overly nice to me. It’s a good thing I grew out of that, because this place has stellar customer service.
Now, for those of you that don’t already know me well, sandwich assembly is one of the few things I get snobby and elitist about. But, it’s not coming from my ego. It’s because I grew up on my mom’s expertly assembled sandwiches, with even distribution to all edges and structural integrity (a favorite term of hers). And of course they are delicious.
Kurobota Pork Belly Bành Mì
“So what are you doing for lunch today?” “I’m just brown baggin it. With this here $12 sandwich.”
This sandwich was, as you can see, well assembled. That surprised me given how fast it came out after ordering. The overall flavor profile is basically that of a Westernized bành mì, perhaps due to a lighter pickling on the vegetables, but therich and not overly hoisin-y pork belly itself was excellent. The ciabatta proved to be a worthy vehicle for the filling, as well as a neat window into an alternate Italian Indochina history.
A solid 10/10.
As good as this sandwich was, it didn’t really do anything for the curious squirrel.
I was craving a non-In n Out burger, so I had to drive a bit. Still going to file this under “UCI eatin,” though, because this is my blog and even if every single one of my readers got angry about that, I’d only have to deal with 3 angry people.
Mick’s holds the distinction of being the only place where I’ll order something that has basil in it…
…and that something is their strawberry basil lemonade. I suppose it’s the basil-transmogrifying power of all the fruit that makes this work for me.
The regular Karma Burger with egg and avocado added.
An excellent burger! Met all the major requirements right off the bat—balance, juicyness, etc.—and proceeded to exceed them. If you’re one of those people who don’t trust signs, it is readily apparent upon eating that the party is hand formed. The Karma sauce brings the beloved mayonnaise/ketchup/mustard profile, as well as a subtle spice. The added egg was perfectly cooked, even. Completely liquid yolk yet completely cooked white.
“Man, it’s really hot.”
“Let’s go get a bowl of boiling hot liquid.”
I resisted the alluring smells of Slapfish as I came of the bridge and pressed on to the far end of UTC to satiate my 3 day craving for Japanese flavors.
Extra points for presentation.
The murky, oily broth really hit the spot on this extremely typical Socal day, oddly enough. Also, I don’t remember liking bean sprouts as much as I did in this bowl. They just worked so well with the broth, meat, and wheaty ramen.
The “special egg” (that’s what it says on the menu I’m not being cheeky this time) was only just hard boiled. That with a spoonful of broth were perhaps the best bite paired with a pull from the nice mug of Kirin.
Now I really feel ready for the Jodaiko workshop this evening.
College isn’t so bad. If you can compartmentalize and ignore the obscene cost and the bureaucracy and the overall flawed nature of the system it perpetuates, it’s a pretty cool place to hang out.
UCI happens to be across the street (by way of a bridge, as it happens, which is super cool) from UTC, or “University Town Center,” for the literally and/or figuratively uninitiated. Get it? Because frats? Fortunately, UCI isn’t so big on the whole Greek life thing. Presumably due to the same counterculture attitude that led to a freakin ANTEATER being the mascot.
Anyways, across that confounded bridge one finds what is basically a shopping center-sized food court. As one would expect, all the big demographics of Irvine are represented in food.
On the 4th day of classes, I FINALLY made the crossing. Even in the 3 o’clock hour many places had a goodly crowd. Slapfish, for multiple reasons, suggested itself to me.
$20 lunch eaten next to the campus Panda Express and cafeteria. Only in Irvine, right? No but seriously. I should show this post to someone in the Sociology department.
The simplicity of the food would possibly limit what I have to say about it, but the sheer quality offsets that somewhat. The juicy, briny lobster in a coating of sauce of the proper thickness is obviously the star, but the bread held up its side just fine. And special commendation to the fries for being among the best-fried I’ve had.
The only downside is that now I’ll have a hard time continuing my survey of UTC knowing how good Slapfish is.